"Can I put wildflower seed on grass?" we're frequently asked. Customers usually have an existing lawn or pasture that they want to improve. The quick answer is that it's possible it won't work. If you start from scratch, you'll have a higher chance of producing a wildflower meadow area. But even if you're just trying to add color to an already-existing green space, here are some factors to consider before scattering seeds.
The type of seed and the time of year you plant them will determine how much growth you see. Some types of flowers require a second generation of seed to produce more flowers, while others are self-seeding after their first season. Some plants are annuals and will die back after flowering; others are perennials that live for several years after sending up seedheads. You can increase your chances of success by choosing a species that lives in your region and that you know is compatible with your soil type and other growing conditions.
Some flowers are available as transplants and can be planted outside during certain times of year. Knowing the right time to plant depends on when you want to see results. Most transplantable flowers are available in nurseries from April through June. Be aware that many varieties sell out early each year so you may need to wait until later in spring or early summer to find something attractive.
Many flowers can be seeded directly into the soil around their roots.
Is it possible to establish a wildflower meadow on an existing lawn?
The response is emphatically "NO." Unfortunately, creating a meadow is a bit more difficult than simply scattering a few wildflower seeds on top of your lawn. Each seed must come into complete touch with the bare soil in order to be successful. Grass will grow anywhere from one-half to two feet between the rows of seeds, and since most meadows require periodic cutting or mowing, this material is removed as waste. This leaves the seeds exposed to wind and weather, which can destroy them before they have a chance to germinate.
The best way to create a wildflower meadow is by planting a variety of species. Try including some that are native to your area, such as butterfly weed (Nepeta faassenii), candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). These plants not only provide beauty throughout the season, but they also attract bees and other beneficial insects that eat harmful pests like mosquitos and spiders.
You should plan on spending around $50 for a 10-foot by 10-foot patch, and you can expect to see results within six months to a year. However, these meadows will continue to produce flowers and attract animals for up to five years.
Incorporating Wild Flora into Grass: Ideally, all wildflower sowings should take place on clear, weed-free land. However, given enough time, it is feasible to introduce species into established grass. Wild flowers can be incorporated into the lawn by either planting seeds directly into the soil or by setting plants out into naturalized areas of your yard. Seeds should be planted as soon as possible after harvest to ensure maximum germination rates within these humid conditions. Some species may require supplemental moisture during dry periods if you are planting more than occasionally.
If you choose to plant seeds directly into the lawn, cover them only up to about 1 inch deep and water well after sowing to promote strong seedlings. When they reach 4 inches in height, thin out weak plants and repot the stronger ones to a larger container. You can also buy transplants that have been grown under glass for sale at garden centers or specialty nurseries. These pre-sprouted seeds will need less time to mature when planted in the ground.
Grasslands tend to support more diverse communities of insects and other organisms than other types of land. In addition, grasslands store more carbon dioxide than other land types which helps mitigate global warming. Finally, grasslands provide valuable habitat for many species of animals including birds, mammals, and reptiles.
The most basic way to get started with your wildflower garden is to purchase a large bag of native mixed wildflower seed to distribute in your bed or meadow. Simply use a hoe or shovel to loosen the soil and remove the majority of the weeds and grass from the planting area. Then, sprinkle the seed over the soil and gently press it into the ground. Finally, water the seedlings regularly and watch them grow into strong plants that attract butterflies and other pollinators.
You can also try some of these alternative methods for spreading wildflower seed: drag race tracks, bingo boards, noodle gardens, cracker boxes, and flower strips are all ways to help attract wildlife to your property.
There are many different types of flowers that will work well together if you want to create a wildflower patch. Nasturtiums have colorful flowers that resemble butterfly wings and they like to grow in clusters at the end of long stalks. The seeds from nasturtiums are edible and used in salads and sauces. Try planting them in containers and moving them around your yard as a bloom-time pest control strategy. They're perfect for killing aphids when planted near your vegetable crops.
Have a favorite bird? You may be able to attract it to your yard by planting a tree or shrub that it finds attractive. For example, redbirds love cherries while cardinals enjoy peas.